School’s out for Summer

Summer slows everything down, people are away, there’s a sense of school holidays even if you’re not a kid and don’t have kids, the evenings are long and light and when you can you’re lapping up your year’s supply of Vitamin D.

Life is ebb and flow, there’s time for speed and a time to slow down. Think of a garden; you don’t plant a seed and expect to see a tree the next day. The art of patience allows for a natural pace, the need for speed forces artificial pressure on a creative process. Think of Genetically Modified Foods. They grow quick and taste of nothing. In the film industry we use the three pronged model: quick, cheap, good. You can only have two of the three. Quick and cheap, but not good. Quick and good, but not cheap. Cheap and good but not quick.

Have dreams

Illustration by Lou Hamilton

Even instant gratification takes too long” Carrie Fisher is quoted as saying. But she has Bipolar Disorder. “I would get really impatient. I was going faster than everything else around me, and it drove me crazy. You feel out of step with the world” She has achieved a lot, being talented and manic. Her 1987 book Postcards from the Edge hit the New York Times bestseller list and won her the Los Angeles Pen Award for Best First Novel; and she’s published three bestsellers since. More recently she’s turned her memoir Wishful Drinking into a one-woman play, as well as an HBO special.

But you don’t need to be Manic to achieve a lot. I’m from the School of Plod, you do a little and often and you can incrementally produce a large body of work. The art is in consistent application. It’s like saving money. You put in 3% of your wages and over time you have built up a substantial nest-egg. It’s called Compound Interest. Day one you put in £1, Day 2 you put in another £1 and you’ve already doubled your money. Day 4 you’ve quadrupled your initial deposit. The same with writing a book; two hours a day or 1000 words and in 80 days you’ve got your first draft.

where's your hideaway

Illustration by Lou Hamilton

Carl Honore wrote In praise of Slowness, a book on the need to slow down. He speaks of how we have added speed to everything; speed-reading, speed-walking, speed-dating. He even passed a gym in New York offering speed-yoga. We believe ourselves to be time poor, so pack more in, we run faster and we feel like we have even less time than ever. We do nothing properly, we leap frog from one task to another. Marinade, savour, mull, languish, ponder, wander, contemplate, peruse, explore, lie fallow, are words we have ejected from our vocabulary and left to curl and wither under the heat of our soles pounding tarmac.

When you slow down you simply do things better. Eating, sleeping, making love, creating, inventing, designing all become better when slowness is your modus operandi. Understanding this has created the international Slow Movement, which started in Italy but has slowly spread around the world. Slow Food, growing, consuming in an organic sustainable way that celebrates pleasure and health. Slow Cities where people slow down, smell the roses and connect with one another; slowing traffic, putting in places for people to sit, read, take a breather and decompress, green spaces, art works for contemplation, poetry on the underground.

The Scandanavian countries are showing that you don’t need to work at the speed of light in order to have a kick-ass economy. They work reasonable hours and they are now among the top six most competitive nations on earth. They understand that in order to be more productive people need to be able to work fewer hours, to unplug, to sit in a quiet room. In order to be creative we need to switch off and re-charge on a regular basis.

So take timeout over Summer, use it as an opportunity to kick back and let your creative mind take over. Day dream, chill out and enjoy the view. Then in September you can come back to life and hit the ground running.

If the thought of September scares you, if you are wanting to get out of the rat race but don’t know how, I can work with you to find another way. Lou@createlab.co.uk

If you are coach and want to take your practice to the next level join us on our Quantum Coaching Bootcamp workshop. Warning: It’s not for the faint-hearted

Motivational Mondays: Building New Beliefs

We create a tapestry of beliefs in our lives, some that help us, some that hinder. We build them on the back of childhood experiences, learned behaviours, difficult setbacks, and proven successes. However, it turns out, we have much more control over what we believe than we give ourselves credit for, and when we do pull rank on our cranky belief systems, we find that we can create much happier lives for ourselves.

Illustration by Lou Hamilton

Illustration by Lou Hamilton

“Belief has been a most powerful component of human nature that has somewhat been neglected,” says Peter Halligan, a psychologist at Cardiff University. “But it has been capitalised on by marketing agents, politics and religion for the best part of two millennia.”

But that is changing. Now in the new field of social neuroscience, focus has landed on our beliefs systems; how we develop our beliefs and how we view those of other people. It shapes how we live our lives, how we interact with others, how we feel, how well we perform, how productive and happy we are.

“In the West, most of our physical needs are provided for. We have a level of luxury and civilisation that is pretty much unparalleled,” says Kathleen Taylor, a neuroscientist at Oxford University. “That leaves us with a lot more leisure and more space in our heads for thinking.” Beliefs and ideas therefore become our currency, says Taylor. Society is no longer a question of simple survival; it is about choice of companions and views, pressures, ideas, options and preferences.

Illustration by Lou Hamilton

Illustration by Lou Hamilton

Cognitive neuroscientist Rebecca Saxe tells us in her TED talk ‘How we read each other’s minds’ that there is a region of the brain geared especially for understanding our own and other people’s thoughts, knowledge, beliefs, desires and emotions. It’s called the Right Temporo-Parietal Junction (rTPJ) and is located above and behind your right ear. It’s not hugely developed in children who find it very hard to comprehend that other people have beliefs that are different from their own.

Illustration by Lou Hamilton

Illustration by Lou Hamilton

As we progress to adulthood we are more able to understand, and go on to make moral judgments on, what people believe and think by observing their behaviours, emotions and actions. However people with autism find it very difficult to understand other people’s beliefs, although those who are higher-functioning are often able to develop compensation mechanisms to bridge the shortfall. Indeed we probably all know people who seem to lack a degree of empathy when it comes to understanding us, and it could be that this area of the brain is under-developed.

Illustration by Lou Hamilton

Illustration by Lou Hamilton

Being able to step into someone else’s shoes works in two ways: The capacity of sharing and recognising an other’s emotion has been described as emotional empathy (Shamay-Tsoory,2011). The term cognitive empathy refers to empathy as a cognitive role-taking ability, or the capacity to engage in the cognitive process of adopting another’s psychological point of view (Frith and Singer 2008). Either forms of empathy require the use of imagination; the creation of images in our own mind that represent what we believe to be going on in someone else’s mind. In fact when neuroscientists observe the brain of someone asked to imagine someone else’s beliefs, they witness the rTPJ firing up.

Illustration by Lou Hamilton

Illustration by Lou Hamilton

“And yet, what are we to do about this terribly significant business of other people? So ill equipped are we all, to envision one another’s interior workings and invisible aims.” Phillip Roth

Well, the scientists at MIT are now looking at ways to disrupt or scramble the rTPJ in order to change our entrenched beliefs or judgments and improve our ability to empathise with the beliefs of others. There is of course a moral dilemma associated with this, when it comes to Big Brother telling us what to believe or not.  We can all benefit from having a highly tuned radar for the plight of others: especially as coaches, teachers, aid-workers, politicians, novelists and parents, but most of us don’t need the interference of a scrambling machine to disrupt our own harmful beliefs and create new beneficial ones. The more we can develop and build up the muscle of our imaginations, the more we can empathise with the people in the world around us, and the less we will make divisions between ourselves and others.

Illustration by Lou Hamilton

Illustration by Lou Hamilton

As Frank Borman, commander of the Apollo 8 mission, put it, “When you’re finally up at the moon looking back on Earth, all those differences and nationalistic traits are pretty well going to blend, and you’re going to get a concept that maybe this really is one world, and why the hell can’t we learn to live together like decent people?”

It is equally important to be able to have insight into our own belief system, because it has an enormous impact on our mental state and well-being. It is our foundation. We view and interpret the world through our belief system. When we harbour false beliefs that cause us harm, they stop us doing things we might otherwise succeed at, we judge others through a warped lens, we rush to conclusions without pause for thought. When we believe we can’t do something, we don’t try and we shrink wrap our experiences. Those that believe that there is nothing to be lost by giving something a go, naturally have a greater chance of making it happen. Beliefs are an extension of memory. When we have succeeded before, we bring that experience to our assessment of the present problem or challenge. When we have failed, we draw on that memory to undermine our current perceptions.

Peter Halligan says “A belief is a mental architecture of how we interpret the world […] We have lots of fluid things moving by – perceptions and so forth – but at the level of who our friends are and so on, those things are consolidated in crystallised knowledge units. If we did not have those, every time we woke up, how would we know who we are?”

 Beliefs are building blocks; they are the structure by which we understand our existence. They are handed down to us by our families, culture, and communities; they become entrenched, built up over time, like plaque, hardened and immutable. People’s beliefs can be manipulated through brain-washing, new messages repeated over and over in a stressful and emotionally charged environment. But equally they can also be disassembled and rebuilt in a way that is healthy and valuable, to create a more positive outlook. When harmful beliefs have become a bad habit we need to flip them over into helpful ones.

“Beliefs are mental objects in the sense that they are embedded in the brain. If you challenge them by contradiction, or just by cutting them off from the stimuli that make you think about them, then they are going to weaken slightly. If that is combined with very strong reinforcement of new beliefs, then you’re going to get a shift in emphasis from one to the other.” Kathleen Taylor, Oxford University.

Illustration by Lou Hamilton

Illustration by Lou Hamilton

Harvard Psychologist and author of Stumbling on Happiness, Dan Gilbert describes in his TED talk The Surprising Science of Happiness how our beliefs can be misplaced. When he showed the audience pictures of a lottery winner and of a paraplegic and asked who they believed to be the happier, the majority replied that the lottery winner would be happier. They imagined what it would be like to win a $million and equally what it would be like to be injured and left to live in a wheelchair. Their overwhelming belief was that it has got to be better to win the money. However Gilbert reveals that when lottery winners and paraplegics were tested one year after the happening of their fortune or misfortune, they were at equal levels of happiness. The audience’s belief and perception of imagined scenarios involving sudden wealth or disability were thrown upside down. The reality is that:

“Tis nothing good or bad but thinking makes it so” William Shakespeare

Illustration by Lou Hamilton

Illustration by Lou Hamilton

Our beliefs influence our behaviour, effect our bodies and minds and can have a profound impact on others. With determination we can create beliefs that serve us well and give our lives the best chance of happiness. They are not rigid nor inflexible, we can challenge them and turn them around. We can synthesize them to work for us and not against us.

Work with Accredited Coach Lou Hamilton to bash down your false beliefs and create new beneficial ones. Lou@createlab.co.uk

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Motivational Mondays: Using Intuition

Intuition is our body radar, picking up signals to give us inside knowledge on which to base decisions. It is an instinctive response not an intellectual or logical one. It’s a feeling. When we listen to and follow our gut instinct, things usually turn out well. It is our animal instinct. We often leave it dormant.

Doodle by Lou Hamilton

Doodle by Lou Hamilton

Intuition is a sense; it relays information, be that of danger or fortune. It gives an inkling of what might be ahead, behind or out of sight. It is what we do with the information that determines the path we carve for ourselves. Our creative nature responds to intuition, so the more open we are to the intuitive sense the more creative we can be. But we can only tap into it if we choose to stop and listen, for it is a subtle and delicate sense that can be easily drowned out by the hustle and bustle of everyday life.

Doodle by Lou Hamilton

Doodle by Lou Hamilton

It takes patience, awareness and practice. Take time to pause, to notice moments of insight and flashes of inspiration, to watch patterns of events unfolding and evolving around you. Similar occurrences start to appear in different areas of your life and you can begin to make connections. You notice avocados are pushed to the front of the shelves in the supermarket, then someone recommends avocado oil, then you read that avocados are a superfood. Your week starts to pop with avocados and before you know it you are eating them every day and putting avocado oil on your salad and making face masks from the flesh. This is an example of how something slowly creeps onto our radar until it is multiplying across all our senses and we decide to act upon the flashing message in our brain: “avocados are good for you, eat more of them.”

Doodle by Lou Hamilton

Doodle by Lou Hamilton

The same thing happens when we start to become more positive in our lives. We become more sensitive to negative people, the ones that drain our energy. Gradually we are so attuned that when we hear negative talk it feels like someone running their nails down a black board. Our intuition by now is so strong in that area that the moment we meet someone we instantly ‘know’ if they are good for us or not. Our intuitive sense is screaming at us to back off from the negative people, to shake off their cloak of bleakness. If we ignore this voice we can start to become depleted or even ill from the strain of propping ourselves up against the dripping effect of their toxic waste.

Doodle by Lou Hamilton

Doodle by Lou Hamilton

When an opportunity arises, our intuition responds first; a flutter of excitement or a sense of fear or dread. We then check in with all our other senses and background information. Our logic piles in with the pros and cons. We make connections, run the reel through our minds of what the outcome will look like in a variety of scenarios. Then the best thing we can do is walk away, sleep on it, distract ourselves with other projects. Our intuitive system takes over while our conscious analytical brain is distracted. It percolates the experience until it makes sense of it. Processed, it will seep its way to the surface of our consciousness and we are able to make our decision. Sleep helps the process, with dreams incubating and unraveling the issue, away from the meddling of our conscious mindset, until the intuitive feelings become thoughts that can be acted on. If we listen to the advice of the wrong people it can set us off at a tangent to our intuition, cast us adrift from what we instinctively know to be right.

Doodle by Lou Hamilton

Doodle by Lou Hamilton

We feel intuition through a physical change in our bodies, sweaty palms, a tightening in our chest, a flutter in our stomach. Scientists at the University of Iowa did a study to test for perspiration on card players’ hands. The players didn’t know that the deck was stacked but after turning over about ten cards they started generating stress responses with sweatier palms. But it wasn’t until they had turned over 50 cards that they began to suspects the cards were rigged and not until they had got to 80 cards that they were able to work out how the decks were stacked. Their bodies sensed something was up long before their conscious minds were able to make the connection. And another study in 2005 found that the brain regions associated to bodily signals and sensory processing in people who meditated regularly, had developed more grey matter. Meditators are better placed to listen to their intuition.

“We all process things that we’re not consciously aware of—it’s a feeling of knowing that uses an older brain structure,” says neuroscientist Beatrice de Gelder, PhD, who researches blindsight, a phenomena of blindness that occurs when brain is damaged but the patient is still able to navigate a course or detect a person’s facial expression even though the can’t see using their conscious vision. Because we’re so dependent on our sense of sight, she says, we’re not used to trusting our intuitive vision track. When we feel a sense of foreboding about something we must pay attention to that sensation.

In 1957 W. I. B. Beveridge explored the role of the intuition and imagination in science in his book The Art of Scientific Investigation. He found that the more people were able to listen to their intuition, the more open was their conduit to creative thinking. Anne Lamott‘s Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life, agrees “You get your intuition back when you make space for it, when you stop the chattering of the rational mind. The rational mind doesn’t nourish you. You assume that it gives you the truth, because the rational mind is the golden calf that this culture worships, but this is not true. Rationality squeezes out much that is rich and juicy and fascinating.”

Albert Einstein: “The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift.”

Steve Jobs: “The people in the Indian countryside don’t use their intellect like we do, they use their intuition instead, and the intuition is far more developed than in the rest of the world… Intuition is a very powerful thing, more powerful than intellect, in my opinion. That’s had a big impact on my work. Western rational thought is not an innate human characteristic, it is learned and it is the great achievement of Western civilization. In the villages of India, they never learned it. They learned something else, which is in some ways just as valuable but in other ways is not. That’s the power of intuition and experiential wisdom.”

When Picasso began a drawing he would hold his pen above the blank page, not knowing what he was going to draw. Then he would touch the nib to paper and let his intuition guide his creativity and the drawing would flow from his hand. Writers say that just the act of showing up at their keyboard everyday, allows the words to pour from a place they can’t intellectually tap into. But intuition doesn’t just belong to the artistic. Intuition and creativity are an integral part of us all. They are interconnected, interdependent and interchangeable from each other and from all our other human capabilities. The more we develop those aspects of ourselves the more everything else flows in a transference that quantum physicists like to call ‘instant information transference’. We make better decisions, we learn more easily, we understand more, we make more original connections, we are more empathetic, we see things more clearly, we gain a deeper insight into our own purpose and we find life more meaningful.

Doodle by Lou Hamilton

Doodle by Lou Hamilton

Intuition and creativity help build our intelligence and guide our behavior, whilst creating a fertile field for making innovative progress. Our brains are plastic, always ready to be stretched, molded and developed. All we have to do is get out of our own way, pause, listen and learn from that quiet inner compass and gradually our mind expands, our intuitive voice gets stronger, our ability to think creatively and make connections grows and our intelligence becomes alert, responsive and boundless.

To develop our intuitive strength

  1. We must learn to become to attuned to our intuitive sense

  2. We must learn to interpret what we tune in to

  3. We must learn to act on what we have connected to

Learn to use your intuition and creativity by working with me as your creative coach, and create a richer life for yourself. Email me to find out more: Lou@createlab.co.uk

Doodle by Lou Hamilton

Doodle by Lou Hamilton

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Motivational Mondays: I am not Creative

“I’m not creative” is a defensive strike, stated loudly by those wishing to dissociate themselves from Strange Artistic Types. Fear not, opening up to your sleeping creativity will not immediately have you spraying anonymous politico-art statements on the side of bridges or get you suspended from a gallery ceiling while people throw paper balls at you. Here is a fact. To think creatively you do not have to be an Artist.

Illustration by Lou Hamilton

Illustration by Lou Hamilton

Yes Artists have finely tuned their creative thinking skills, which they use in the pursuit of Art. But you too can get your creativity out from under the dustcovers of primary school, which was the last time most of us were encouraged to use it, spritz it with a good dose of WD40 and get cracking on directing it in any way you want. But to do that lets first understand what it is, how we can improve it and then how to put it to good use.

Illustration by Lou Hamilton

Illustration by Lou Hamilton

By nature humans are creative. We are curious, we challenge, we play with ideas, we experiment, we investigate, we invent, we innovate, we imagine, we change, we conceptualise, we solve problems. That is how humanity has developed. And the ability to use it is one the most critical life skills we can develop. We have a monopoly on it. No animal or supercomputer can compare to our capability to think creatively. And if you are choosing a career or business, find one that has infinite capacity to expand on your creativity. Creative Thinking can’t be outsourced to China. Developing it will keep you constantly in demand. It differentiates you from those who are bound by logical, traditional, linear thinking and systemized, number crunching, rule-laden productivity. Build your creative muscle and it will give you the edge. Be the one to generate ideas and procedures, notice how elements can be improved and implemented to make the whole more efficient, more enticing, more in demand.

Illustration by Lou Hamilton

Illustration by Lou Hamilton

David and Tom Kelly of the innovative global design company IDEO, responsible for Apple’s first mouse and Proctor & Gamble’s stand-up toothpaste dispenser, have written a book called Creative Confidence. In it they tell the story of a guy called Doug Deitz who helps lead design and development of high-tech medical imaging systems for GE Healthcare, an $18 billion division of one of the largest companies in the world. His multimillion-dollar CT Scanners peer painlessly inside the human body in ways that would have been considered extraordinary not that long ago.

A few years back, Doug completed a project on a CT scanning machine that he had spent two and a half years working on. When he got the opportunity to see it installed in a hospital’s scanning department, he jumped at the chance. Standing next to his new machine, Doug talked with the technician who was operating it that day. He told her that the CT scanner had been submitted for an International Design Excellence Award—the “Oscars of design”—and asked her how she liked its new features.

Doug was patting himself on the back for a job well done, his question somewhat rhetorical. What happened next certainly wasn’t what he was expecting. The technician asked him to leave, so that her patient could have her scan. He walked out into the corridor and saw the frail girl walking towards him, gripping her parents’ hands, visibly frightened, her parents no less anxious; all in anticipation of her having to climb inside Doug’s machine. As the family passed by, Doug saw the girl was crying.

Illustration by Lou Hamilton

Illustration by Lou Hamilton

In all his self-congratulation Doug had never considered what it was actually like for a child to lie down on the sliding base and be maneuvered into the claustrophic, cylindrical tomb, having to be completely still and alone whilst bombarded by unfamiliar mechanical sounds. In fact most children had to be sedated in order to lie still long enough for the equipment to do its job. It had never once dawned on him that using his ground-breaking machine was so utterly terrifying. The incident shook him to the core. Rather than an elegant, sleek piece of technology, worthy of accolades and admiration, his innovation was the source of anguish and misery.

Illustration by Lou Hamilton

Illustration by Lou Hamilton

Doug consulted with his friends and colleagues, wracking his brains for a solution. Someone suggested he attend a week-long executive creative education workshop that would test and challenge his perceptions. He was introduced to the idea of human-centred approach to design and innovation. Instead of thinking about the function and aesthetics of his machine, he thought about the child who was to use it. It re-invigorated his creative confidence. He experimented and played with the concepts that arose around the child’s experience, building on a cross-pollination of ideas with the others in the group. He learned to look outside of his usual frame of reference.

Illustration by Lou Hamilton

Illustration by Lou Hamilton

Back home his creative instincts took hold as he talked to child life specialists and paediatric experts and he studied children at play, absorbing what engaged, inspired and excited them. What he came up with completely transformed the children’s experience. He created his ‘Adventure Series’, turning the CT scanning machines into an adventure, decorating them as spaceships or pirate ships, with the staff in character leading the child in the starring role, onto their voyage. The amount children needing to sedated during the scanning process was dramatically reduced.

Photo courtesy of

Photo courtesy of Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC

With a spin of creative thought he learned to design not from his ego but from the perspective of the child. He boosted his creative mindset and challenged himself to push beyond the status quo. When we do this we build our creative confidence and we are able to increase the span of our vision. We can have a greater positive impact on the world around us in our lives and at work as we approach problems with our children, our partners, colleagues, and clients, with empathy and intuition.

Illustration by Lou Hamilton

Illustration by Lou Hamilton

Creative thinking opens us up to a whole realm of opportunities. Look at The Internet, Space-travel, the Wheel. Wherever we turn we come across the results of someone’s creativity. We are surrounded by potential waiting for us to grab hold of it and turn it into something life-enhancing. The more we look, observe and question the more we can make the most of our lives and our businesses. How can we make money while we sleep, how can we eat more healthily on a budget, how can we stay youthful looking without injecting rat poison into our skin, how can we help our children to develop their ideas and become independent confident young people, how can we avoid getting miserable in the winter, how can we find our passion and purpose, how can can we get more fun out of a longstanding relationship, how can we revamp our wardrobe, how can we grow our business without working ourselves to an early grave?

Photo-hailu by Lou Hamilton

Photo-haiku by Lou Hamilton

By asking questions we can instigate and manifest positive change. Using our creative thinking skills we develop a more active and less passive role in our own lives. We implement, cope with and adapt to change. By building our creative muscle we will trust our intuition, act on our instincts and be in the driver’s seat on a journey of opportunity, growth, fulfillment and transformation.

Photo by Lou Hamilton

Photo by Lou Hamilton

So next time you are stuck, ask yourself, how else can I think about this? Write down the problem and brainstorm all other possibilities, keep asking why and how, challenge your first responses, talk to other people, research other approaches, don’t accept a solution until it takes you to where you want to be. Understand it is a process of questioning, challenging and transforming, all in the pursuit of something better.

If you want to feel good, work well and build a better life, invest in a Creative Thinking coach who will work with you to develop your creative thinking skills. Email me on Lou@createlab.co.uk

Follow my daily Picture Posts on Twitter: @createlab.co.uk Instagram: create_lab Facebook: Lou Hamilton

Motivational Mondays: No to Naysayers

‘Who do you think you are?’ is the name of a TV series getting people to trawl through their family history to unearth new information about their forebears and cast a different light on who they are on the back of it.

road less travelled

It implies you are the sum of generations rolled up and reincarnated into a model of baggage and inherited personas. Think of your hang ups. Do you procrastinate, doubt yourself, live in fear, pray for the end of the week, compare yourself negatively with others, put up with naysayers, people please, put yourself down, etc etc? Wherever all that stuff came from (blame the ancestors if you like) it is certainly not helping you now. Is it possible to cast off the shadow and reinvent a new you?

Head in the clouds

Imagine not feeling those things? Imagine waking up in the morning and saying like President Obama “Yes I can?” With New Year’s Resolutions we promise ourselves a mental make-over, but unfortunately sheer will power usually isn’t man or woman enough for the job. You need to get creative to upscale your mindset. Creative thinking will trick your deeply entrenched resistance into shedding the shackles of years of self-sabotage.

Inspiration is everywhere

How does it work? Well it’s basis is in anti-logic. The usual solutions haven’t done the trick, so you have to get cunning. Resistance thinks ‘can’t’- creative thinking does something out of the blue, beyond the pail, something ridiculous or subverted or upside down. It spins our brain and our patterns of behaviour and our damaging beliefs, out of orbit and into a place where ‘Can’ is actually possible.

Light changes everything

The two words we coaches hear more often than anything (yes to our ears they are swear words! ) are : “Yeah but…” When we hear them we know that person is wallowing in the mudflats of misery and will bat you away with the deftness of a hippopotamus’s tail swatting flies.

“Yeah but I’m not creative, yeah but I’m no good at that, yeah but I’m not qualified, yeah but I’m a woman in a man’s world, yeah but I’m too old, yeah but I’m working class, yeah but I’m not clever enough, yeah but I’m shy, yeah but I’m broke, yeah but…” The yeah-butters are very creative in finding reasons to not change or transform themselves even when they say they want to. The yeah-butters put their energy into the treadmill of resistance. What they are really saying is “I have decided it is not possible”.

Sky high dreams

But there is very little that you can’t get around somehow, if you choose to. Beethoven had gone completely deaf when he wrote his 9th Symphony. The great photorealist painter Chuck Close was paralysed so badly by a blood clot on the spine that he couldn’t even pick up a paint brush. He had his paintbrush strapped to his wrist and he developed a new technique in paintings. His work became even more successful than before.  I bet no one heard either Beethoven or Close say “Yeah but…”

Fling open your doors

And then when you’ve won the battle against yourself, you run headlong into the frontline of Naysayers who hide behind the shields of “we don’t want to see you fail, we’re only thinking of your best interests, we don’t want you to get hurt, we’re only trying to protect you, we don’t want you to humiliate yourself.” The list goes on. If they were people who had become immensely successful and happy on the back of this fearful approach, then by all means it would be ok to listen to their concerns. But they’re not. Do you think Richard Branson took any notice of Naysayers proclaiming that setting up an airline was madness? I imagine the only voices he listened to were the ones saying “why the hell not?” And now he owns an Island in the Carribean. I doubt those Naysayers are his neighbours.

Houston we have lift-off

If those negative voices are your own or someone else’s put up a big STOP sign and work on some creative strategies to turn around the yeah-buts and discard the naysayers:

7 Ways to “Yes!”

  1. For every yeah-but write down 10 reasons it could work out
  2. Write down the consequences of staying the same
  3. Think of the people you admire who have achieved great things, imagine the naysayers they met along the way and what yeah butting things those naysayers would have said. Write them down and then do what your hero did and throw them away.
  4. Research 5 successful people and find out how many rejections they had along the way. Make a colourful collage of all the rejections you’ve received and turn it into a Mandela for never giving up.
  5. Spend the day pretending you are already doing thing you want to do or being the person you want to be.
  6. Put yourself in a different context or with different people. It shifts your perspective.
  7. Focus on what you love doing and are happy to apply yourself to day in and day out. That is the only way to get good at something. Naysayers will have a hard time stopping you from doing what you love.

‘A man is a success if he gets up in the morning and goes to bed at night and in between does what he wants to do’ Bob Dylan

If you need some help transforming your thinking or you are stuck in a groove, get yourself a Creative Thinking Coach. Email Lou@createlab.co.uk

For my daily photo-quotes & drawings follow me on Twitter @createlab Instagram create_lab Facebook Lou Hamilton

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